Are you a flowing River or a Stagnant Puddle?

Proverbs 3:9-10 (NIV) says:

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

In essence, we should give God a portion of our wealth (from the “firstfruits”).

Then in Luke 6:38 Jesus says:

“Give, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lapFor with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

(Note that while this section (Luke 6:37-42) is discussing “judging”, verse 38 is clearly discussing giving.  In other words, give instead of always judging.  Have an attitude of “what can I do for you” rather than “what is wrong with you”.  I take these two being put together (that is judging and giving) to mean that if we are to look at others and see their need we should try to fill it with our giving, rather than pointing at them and scoffing.)

By putting those two together (Proverbs and Jesus’ words) we can see that we should be giving to God and the measure we use to give to God will be used also for Him giving to us.

I would like to reveal to you that me and Presten have not been giving any money to God for a while.  There is simply no room in our current budget for tithing.  Of course I am sure some of you are thinking “then make a new budget” and you would be right, but it is never that simple, is it?  In order to make room for God other things must be cut.  And there are things that could be cut like, for example, our internet connection, or our car payment.  If we could cut out our car payment then we could afford to give God the usual 10% that we would like to give.

It makes me wonder, though, if perhaps the reason we have so little money is because we give God so little money.  Our “reason” is “there simply isn’t enough room to give God money", we have other priorities” so I am sure God is using that same measure, “I apologize, Witherspoon Family, but there simply is no money for you right now; I have other priorities like, for example, feeding the hungry.”

While I do not advocate giving to receive, one must wonder why they are not receiving. 

20Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

So the problem here is obviously not that God does not have the means to give us more.  The problem is quite obviously that we are not giving to God so He is not giving to us.  As I said, I do not intend to give so that God will give to me.  But if I love the Lord as much as I do then why would I not offer Him a gift back to say, “thank you and I love you”? 

Consider this: there are two holidays (the origin of which I have no idea) that are of particular interest to parents – Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  The purpose of these days (aside from boosting greeting card sales etc) is to give back a bit of gratitude to our Mothers and Fathers for all that they give us.  Our parents spend their entire lives caring for us (if you think they only spend 18 years then clearly you have no parents or no kids!) why wouldn’t we want to give back to them more than just these two days?  Someone once postulated that it costs more than $1,000,000 to raise one child.  So how much, then, should we monetarily repay our own parents for such a financial undertaking?

If, then, we dedicate so much love and repayment to our own biological, earthly parents, why would we not desire to repay our Heavenly Father so much more? He not only provided us with those parents, but also with the job we have, the spouse we have, the children we have, and any other good thing that has come into our life.  If you question whether a blessing is from God or not perhaps you need to read your Bible more, starting with James chapter 1!

I speak to myself here, folks!! I do not have a monetary job so I cannot give more than my own time, but I do help with the budget.  I know the need to give to God is there.  However, is it not easy to tell ourselves why we cant give to God during this economic crisis?

A good preacher once delivered a very good sermon: “We are a river, not a reservoir”.  It was about how money should flow through us, not to us and stop.  God blesses us with things and money and we should then give back to God and to others, and the cycle will continue.  But if we do not give then we will not receive.  Do you know what happens to a body of water that does not move?  My parents have a creek down at the bottom of the hill behind their house.  The creek has many twists and turns and when it rains the overflow of water will fill up the creek more than usual.  As the water flows and the rains stop puddles are left on the sides of the creek.  They are too far from the creek for the water to flow through them.  So as the day gets hotter they begin to get stagnate and stink!  Eventually they dry up and are gone until it rains again.

Are we like this sometimes?  God pours out so much blessing on us that we move father from Him (the creek and source of the water) and are on our own.  He stops blessing us because we have moved from Him and we begin to, well, stink!!  It is only when we draw near to Him that His blessings can again flow through us and make us alive again.  We should not hoard.  We should not worry about if the money will “run out”.  (Read Matthew 6:25-34)  God always provides us with what we need, and often what we want, as long as we are “seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness” (Matt 6:33).

Keep your eyes focused on Him and allow things to flow through you.  Bless others with the blessings He has given you.  Meanwhile, I am going to work to fix our budget.

How’s your budget??

xox

Diet: Am I “fat enough” to lose weight?

(I would like to preface this article by saying first of all that I believe every woman should have some curves in normal places – bust, butt, thighs, whatever – and should not try to be sticks.  I have no intention of becoming a stick and don’t think any other woman should try to be a stick.  I would also like to say that I love my Mama.  Now please read on…)

 

So I have had many loving people express to me that I don’t need to lose weight.  Today yet another lovely lady from church expressed that she could hardly believe I was 200 lbs to begin with and by looking at me would never think I need to lose any weight.  While I appreciate their love and concern I want others to understand what I see that they do not.

Do you know what really made me decide to do this program?  It was partially how bad I felt day-to-day and how little energy I had (at such a young age!!).   But what really opened my eyes was when I realized just how overweight I was.  Last summer I visited my parents in NC.  They live on a large piece of land in the middle of nowhere, Frogsboro (YES, Frogsboro), North Carolina.  Every summer I go visit and let them enjoy their grandchildren while I help around the land doing chores that are more difficult for them which may include mending fences, building stairways, helping in the gardens, house chores or whatever else they have for me to do.  This past summer my Dad said to me very lovingly, “Margaret you are getting fat and if you don’t do something about it now you will be as big as your mom someday. And when you get that overweight it is very hard to go back.”  Now I love my Mama very, very much and would never say or do anything to hurt her but she is no small woman.  There is a lot of her to love, and as much as I love her I would rather Presten have less physical body to love, if you understand what I mean.  After my Dad said that to me I looked at myself very objectively and said, “Am I really getting fat?”.  Well you may think not if you saw me in my usual jeans and a nice shirt, but standing in front of a tall mirror butt naked it is quite evident to me.  Some overweight women have this unattractive problem of having extra fat on the backs of their knees.  When I realized that fat was collecting on the back of my knees (a place where curves should not abound) I knew I needed to lose some weight.

My mother has been overweight since I can remember.  For years as a teenager I remember her trying weight loss program after program trying to get her weight off.  She doesn’t feel good.  Working in her garden is hard for her.  As a teen I told myself that I would avoid that difficulty by never getting overweight.  On the other hand I watched my skinny sister – almost too skinny at one point – go from skinny to quite obese.  She would tell me “I hate myself” referring to the stranger she saw in the mirror once she got fat.  Watching her I told myself I wanted to love the woman looking back at me.  I want to look in the mirror and feel good about the naked body looking back at me, not hate it and wish it were not so big.

I mean no offense.  But I think many of us get so used to just looking at our faces in the mirror that we don’t see the rest of our womanly body.  Sometimes we let our eyes glaze over and ignore our fat.  Or we deny our need for weight loss until we are so far gone that we don’t know how to get the weight off.  I am blessed with a high waist, a long torso and long legs.  All that combines to make a body that hides fat rather well when you put some nice clothes on it.  Shorter women do not hide their weight as well because it has fewer places to hide.

So try this for me: Go to the grocery store and pick up a 10 lb sack of potatoes and carry it around for about 5 minutes – not in the cart but in your arms.  That 10 lbs gets a little heavy after a while.  Those of you with small children who love to or need to be carried know what I mean.  Imagine if you are  just 10 lbs overweight your poor body is lugging that extra weight around all the time.  This is how I feel.  I have too many sacks of fat clinging to me and they gotta go!!

I’m not trying to look like some sickly-skinny super model on the front of some titty magazine! Those women are not only air brushed and not real, but to be so skinny they have to not eat real food and not take care of their health but worry more about image.  This is not about what other people think of me – or even what Presten thinks of me.  Presten loves my body the way it is but he also wants me to be healthyI don’t love my body (or the way it looks right now anyway)!  I want to be healthy, not skinny just healthy.  Plan and simple you shouldn’t have love handles on your derrière and believe me I do, I just hide those handles with very good pants!  Just because you don’t see my fat doesn’t mean its not there!

In addition to all this, that 200 lbs I weighed before all this was pure fat (and bones) but very little muscle.  When I lived on the farm with my parents I worked very hard doing hard labor and weighed a healthy 160 lbs and could carry a large bag of chicken feed over my head for fun. I felt good.  I looked good.  I liked the way I felt and looked.  After my emergency c-section with Serenity (2 years ago) I spent a lot of time sitting around waiting for the pain to go away and the scars to heal.  I felt miserable and I could literally feel my muscles deteriorating.  Where I had nice muscles before now lies fat and flab and little tiny muscles barely enough to lift my 40 lb child up in my arms.

So I want you to understand I may not be morbidly obese but if you could really see me – the real me that hides under my clothes – you would agree that I need this.  Be supportive.  When I’ve lost the fat you will look at me and say, “Wow I didn’t realize how fat you were until you lost it all!!” and man I will look great and feel great about myself.

At the risk of making this extremely long I would like to say that don’t we do this with our spiritual bodies?  Don’t we cover up our sins, our crimes, put our skeletons in our closet and try to make people believe that we are perfect?  We put our best foot forward, our happy shiny face on as if to say, “Love me. I am perfect.”  I’m not saying we lie or anything.  But how many of our “friends” really know us the way God knows us?  God knows every single bad thing we have done and still loves us!  The dirty, ugly, stinky, yucky skeletons we hide from everyone else he sees and still loves our inner being anyway.  To me that makes His love so valuable.  It also makes those few relationships where the person is truly intimate with you – not physically I mean but with who we are – so very, very valuable.  I share all of myself with my husband and my parents.  I hide nothing from them.  When I sin I confess to them.  When I have struggles I share those with them also.  And even knowing my worst mistakes they still love me.  I think it is valuable to have people like that in your life.  People who remind you that you are not the sum of your mistakes.  The you they love is so much more than that. That person is who God loves.

Have you embraced His love and shared you true self with Him lately?

xox

Oh! and P.S.

This diet program is going very well for me. I’m am feeling really good now that I weigh 170 lbs!! Only 20 or so more to go.  Trust me, I need it!!

Our Desires vs. God’s Will

When Cassie asks me for ice cream (or anything else that she doesn’t need) many thoughts go through my mind.  Thoughts such as: what time of day is it? Will ice cream stir her up too much and effect her upcoming sleep?  How much has she already eaten? Has she made too many poor choices today (wouldn’t want to enforce bad behavior with rewards)?

Now sometimes I just give her the ice cream because I love her, I know she likes it and one time of spoiling is no big deal. But most of the time I consider her well-being and do what is best for her in the long term rather than in the moment.  I take parenting my children very seriously (some might say too seriously) and while ice cream may not seem like something that can destroy a child, a long term unhealthy diet can.  I think most of us have one or two problems caused directly by our parents mistakes or poor choices and I try my best to avoid as many of those as possible though I do know I cannot be perfect.

I believe that such thoughts are one Gods mind, so to speak, when we make requests of him.  Take my more recent request for a car, for example.  We prayed and prayed for God to grant us a second car to make it possible for me to get out during the week.  We tried securing a second loan (so we could trade in our existing car for two, lesser expensive cars).  We even tried asking around and talking to fellow church family members looking for a reputable sale.  Nothing…  I began to get frustrated with God and say to Him, “What’s the deal!?  I may not totally need this car but it sure would help my weekly sanity!  So why not grant it to me, God??”  I had all but given up hope when I complained to Presten’s mom about the situation.  Shortly thereafter she emailed Presten saying she would gift her car to us – for free!  Now imagine if God has said yes to the loan or the purchase of a second car?  God KNEW we would get a “free” car if we were just patient.  So He was not saying “no” he was saying “wait” but to us they so often look the same, don’t they?

So here I am again on my knees at the feet of my father begging Him for peace of mind in the form of a house.  We live in a nice apartment and we really don’t need to move.  In fact that is the whole reason we went with this apt – so we would be comfortable staying long term.  But we are currently paying $1200 a month and I really believe for that price we could be in a rent house, which would feel so much more semi-permanent.  We cannot afford a house right now and aren’t stupid enough to try when we cannot afford it.  But we have moved every year of Cassie’s life!  She has lived in a new place every birthday and I really want to break that trend (by moving, of course).  i have never put up pictures on the wall or decorated a place because I knew that each move was not permanent.  None of them have felt right, you know?  I love this area where we are now and our apt is comfortable but surely an apt is not permanent.  I just want our children to feel at home.

Then again I moved a lot when I was a kid and I don’t think it damaged me too much.  The house my parents live in now is where I “grew up” and it is the place I call home (other than where my husband and children are), even though my family did not move into that house until I was near 13!  So I guess if my kids don’t have a really more permanent home until they are older it will be alright…

I’m still holding out that God is just saying “wait”.

xox

[See Proverbs 16:9; 19:21]

Day Four: 863 Calories yet satisfied

I only ate 863 calories today yet not once did I feel hungry or underfed.  Dinner was very satisfying.  And I was so proud of myself that I went to life group and they ate pasta dishes and lasagna (MY FAV! I love pasta!) and I ate NONE!  I sat there and ate my bar like a good girl.  Of course I was a little disgruntled, but I got over it. 🙂

So I have to tell you what I ate for dinner because it was so yummy!! There are so many restrictions of what I can have and cant, especially since I have sugar issues so I wanted to be careful.  I bought some raw chicken tenderloins at Costco (about 18 lbs) and intend to eat those all week as my “lean”.  I hope I can come up with enough ways to prepare them so I dont get bored because chicken can be pretty boring – especially since I cant find a bbq sauce I can eat.  So here’s what I did:
Green: I steamed broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus in my steamer.  As the veggies cook, they drip down juice into the steam water.  As they steamed I cooked the chicken some.

Lean: I added a bit of water to the pan (instead of oil) and somewhat boiled the chicken strips.  I added a bouillon cube for a bit of extra flavor (because chicken can be so bland). I also added a few of the asparagus ends that I would have discarded (because they were tough), for flavor.  I used 1/4 tsp mustard powder and 1/8 tsp onion powder also.  Once the veggies were finished steaming I added the leftover water (with veggie drippings) to the chicken and finished cooking the chicken.  Once it was fully cooked, I removed it from the pan, leaving the watery mixture in the pan.  I added 1 tsp of arrowroot powder to the pan and cooked it for a minute or two until it was gravy-like.  I poured it over my chicken and voila! Chicken with Gravy and veggies on the side! YUMMY!!  It tasted great!  I plan to have the same thing tomorrow.

So I had a thought.  I was contemplating the verse:
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20 NIV

I consider myself a Super Mom – more power charged than some other mothers – and the above verse is one of the many reasons I consider myself that.  It is not that I consider myself special of my own right.  Nor do I think that I am exclusively special and no one else can be as super as me.  I am dead to Christ and alive in Him.  I allow God to guide my life and I do my best to turn to Him on how to raise my children.  Though the Bible does say very little about child-rearing, it does say an awful lot about how to be a Christian and how to be like Christ.  So I try to take who God wants my children to be when they are adults and teach them those lessons now.  A child is never too young to learn that certain things are wrong and certain things are right.  In fact, the other day Cassie said to me, “Mommy, when I get big like a Mommy I can do whatever I want because I’m big.” to which I said, “No, Cassie. While you are able to do whatever you want you still need to make wise choices to please God and to live a good life.” then I went on to explain how I could make some poor choices but look at the consequence.  I made it all easy for a 4 yr old to understand, of course.  While she may not fully understand everything I say, she gets the point of it enough for now.

I view child-rearing kind of like building a brick wall.  You cannot build a brick wall by dumping concrete on a pile of bricks.  You have to carefully dig out the foundation and make it flat.  Then you begin to lay the bricks one at a time, carefully smoothing out thin layers of concrete between the bricks so they will stick.  The bricks are the life-lessons and Biblical lessons that my children need to understand.  God and the Bible are the concrete and I am merely the simple brick-layer who is doing what I’m told.  No I have no clue what I am doing but I do know how to lay bricks and smear concrete.  So I lay down lessons for my children and smear Bible verses – sticking them where I can in context – and pray that God leads me to make them who He wants them to be.

So am I more Super than you?  Well that depends… does the Holy Spirit dwell within you?  Do you allow Him to guide your life?  Do you prayerfully go about parenting?  If yes and you are doing your best than I would say you’re on the right track.

I don’t want to sound self-righteous.  I dont think I am better than anyone.  I believe God is perfect and His work in my life impacts my children and by His leading I am the perfect parent for my children – not a perfect parent, mind you, just perfect for my kids. 

I am doing my best and letting God figure out the rest. Are you?

xox

Day Two-ish: Goodbye fat!

Skinny pants here I come!! In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if in the end I am too skinny for my “skinny pants”!

I weighed in today and have lost 5 lbs despite not doing everything perfect.  Can I celebrate with some cake? haha! Just kidding… I’ll celebrate tomorrow with a Chocolate Mint crunch bar instead. :)  But I am totally thrilled even if its only 5 lbs.  If I lose 5 lbs a week I will have lost 20 lbs in four weeks and then 40 lbs in 8 weeks and at that rate (though its bound to slow down at some point) it will only take me three months or less to reach my goal.  I don’t have my hopes too high.  I know weight fluctuates and a plateau happens tot he best of us.  But I am confident in my abilities.  Honey, if I can squeeze an 8 lb baby out with NO DRUGS (and no pain tolerance either) after 20 hrs of labor and 45 minutes of pushing than God sure can help me reach my desired weight! Having a baby was tough.  This is a breeze…  And just think, when all this fat is gone I can finally consider baby number 3.  Cassie continually reminds me that I need to stick to my diet so I can have her another sibling.  In fact, she has been a super mini-coach.  Presten taught her a little bit to say to me if I whine about wanting sugar.  I knew he had so I tested her by saying I wanted sugar and she said in a loving yet firm tone, “Mommy do you love sugar or ME!? You need to stick to your diet so you can be healthy!”  And she sure was right. I do love her way more than sugar and if I don’t stick to my new meal plan than my old on will kill me.  I have no doubt in my mind that the old way of eating so much sugar is detrimental to my health, not to mention that it made me have serious sugar intolerance – or rather something close to diabetes if I wasn’t there already.

I charge you to seriously consider your own health.  I know that I personally would write off every soda because I “needed it” as a pick-me-up and knew I couldn’t survive the day without that bit of caffeine.  But how many things did I know were bad for me but ate them anyway.  I mean, seriously, how many foods do we eat that we know are at least not on the “healthy” list but we eat them any way. 
Consider this list:
ice cream, donuts, pizza, soda, cookies, candy of any kind, coffee, beer, really any alcoholic beverage or any caffeinated beverage, French fries – make that ANYTHING FRIED! – and pretty much anything with “McDonald’s” on it
Would any of those things be considered “healthy”?  I mean would your medical doctor (or any doctor in their right mind) recommend you consume those products on a regular basis?  Yet we do.  I know I personally consumed at least one item a day that I knew was not healthy for me.

Now here’s the real kicker: is that a sin?  Is it a sin to put in your body items that you know are doing them harm?  Isn’t that the whole argument behind not smoking or doing drugs?  We know those things are bad and the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, we should treat our bodies as such, blah, blah, blah (you have probably heard that sermon and if you haven’t I can quote it to you).  I must say this puts me in a situation I would rather not be in.  I LOVE SUGAR.  But if I know it hurts me than would God approve of me putting it in me?  Fill in the blank here: I love ___ but I know it hurts me so would God approve of me consuming it?  I’m not saying God would send me to Hell for eating a candy bar – or even for being obese.  I believe I am saved and my sins are forgiven as long as I am doing my best at all times.  But doing what I know is wrong is not my best.

Consider this Bible verse on the subject:

Romans 5: 17- 6:14 (NIV)
17 For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
18 Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. 20 The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, 21 so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.  8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

How does this verse apply?  It is talking about continuing to sin just because we are saved and our sins are covered by Christ’s blood and God’s grace.  We should instead “offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness”.  What an awesome visual!  Can an obese person be an instrument of righteousness as much as a skinny person? Of course!  But can their gluttony stand in the way of meeting their full potential?  Yes.  This is true for any sin.  A person who is addicted to anything – be it food, alcohol, drugs, porn, sex, TV, chocolate, whatever! – is prohibited from glorifying God to the maximum by their continued sin.  That does not mean they are worthless to God and do Him no good, for all people have worth to God and if we are saved than we are doing something for Him, and even our afflictions play a part in His will.  It is important to recognize our short comings that prevent us from perfection so that we may eradicate those imperfections and meet our fullest potential for Him and therefore serve Him to an even greater capacity.

Please understand that I am NOT telling you that if you do not quit drinking soda or consuming other such things you are sinning or going to hell.  I am merely questioning the fact that eating poorly has become as normal as washing your hair every day, or brushing your teeth, and that perhaps it is a sin and does separate us from perfection.  We so often set our health aside until it is gone and then we question, “where did it go” or “how do I get it back”.  But how often do we question, “WHY AM I SICK?” or even better, “How do I stay well so I can enjoy life to the fullest until my heart gives up from old age!?”  I want that to be me.  I want to SQUEEZE every drop of goodness out of life.  I want to enjoy every single thing that God has blessed us with that we may not enjoy in Heaven.  But I want to do it all to God’s glory and, honey, believe me this fat body aint glorifying God!  And how much more good things could I do for his glory if my body weren’t so fat and I felt better and was overall more healthy??  As it is I am lucky to survive the day!  You may not feel that miserable now but consider that if you continue to treat your body like a trash can than some day it will catch up with you, if only on the day you die!  I mean this with all the love in the world.  I fed by own body whatever I wanted – which usually was some sugary confection– and now I wish I had treated it better before I felt the discomfort of it.  And by the way, I love donuts and will miss them dearly!

I hope I have made you think or at least made you laugh.

As for my eating today: I ate nothing new today and did my very best.  I ate venison (YUM! Thanks Marlene!) with a side of asparagus, broccoli and cauliflower.  Dinner was super awesome.  I spent the whole morning at Marlene Kelly’s house and had a grand time with her family and in her nice big yard!  They are a blessing to know and I’m so glad we are rapidly becoming close friends.

Whew this was long!  But it was a bit interesting to write if not to read.

xox

We’re just bugs

Have you ever seen “A Bugs Life”?  Its a cute movie about mostly ants and their relationship with the mean grasshoppers.  There is a profound moment in the movie where Flick, an inventor and thinker in the movie, says to the little princess ant, Dot, “Do you see this rock?  Pretend its a seed, ok?  Well this seed contains everything that is needed to make a whole tree!”.  Of course then Dot, not really getting the point, replies with, “This rock will become a tree?  You’re weird!”  But this thought led me to a even better thought.  We are much like seeds.  If you think about it, a seed does not contain everything it needs to produce a plant.  While the seed does contain the information and potential for how to produce a plant, it needs other things to complete the process.  If you have taken an elementary science class you know that a seed generally needs light (usually from the Sun), air, and soil with the proper nutrients.  Some plants are more difficult than others and such plants cannot or will not grow without fertilizer.

So you see we are the seed.  When we are born we have plenty of potential.  There is potential for anything.  What is the difference between the baby who grows up to be a mass murdering rapist and the baby who grows up to be a police officer who proudly arrests such lawbreakers?  Is it there DNA?  Is it their parents? Siblings? Teachers?  Environment?  The food they eat?  Perhaps it is a combination of all these factors.  But, I believe, the truth is that each child possesses the equal potential for greatness or evil.  It is not that a baby contains evil DNA.  Perhaps some have proposed that who we become is in our DNA but I have yet to see such research.  But I believe that perhaps, in the end of it all, it comes down to a choice.  Maybe a particular rapist was molested when he was 8 and it messed him up in the head. But he still made a choice to turn to raping people to express his aggression or whatever feelings he has.  No one made him do it.  No one ever forces us to make a choice, not even God.  I do believe that God provides us with the truth and surrounds us with the proper nutrients and in the right moment gives us a choice, but he does not force us one way or the other, and neither does Satan.  Who we are is a choice. So only one question now remains. Do you like who you are?

I am:
patient
kind
honest
friendly
outgoing
generous
loving
among other good things…

But I also am:
impatient at times
very mean when I get angry
selfish
self-centered
oblivious to others feelings when I talk sometimes
and have a serious problem with complaining
among other flaws…

No one is perfect and those who believe themselves to be are obviously imperfect.  Additionally, no one is at a point where change is impossible, though perhaps you know someone whom you would say that change is improbable.

If you want to be someone else
CHANGE YOUR MIND.
~’Sister Hazel’ the music band

Marriage is like Chemistry

In chemistry there are some chemicals that, when mixed together, create a strong but important reaction.  Baking soda and vinegar will bubble when mixed together but they clean quite nicely!  Not being a chemist, I am unsure of other mixtures but I know they exist.  What I find interesting about this is that chemists will mix two chemicals together simply to get the reaction for a specific purpose. Is that not what marriage is like?

Take my parents for example:  they are complete opposites.  My mother is charming, sweet, gentle, extremely and sometimes delusionally optimistic, and can love almost any sinner despite their sin.  My Dad, on the other hand, is somewhat abrasive yet honest, intellectual and analytical, silently loving, and a pessimistic realist.  For years they argued, yelled, banged doors and cupboards, and threats of leaving were made while children hid in their rooms hoping they were just threats. But both of them grew like perfectly fertilized plants and now they are a happy couple.  Mom said the other day, “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t happy with your dad.” (Granted, she is sometimes delusionally optimistic, so maybe that is it.)

Sometime me and my husband, Presten, will get into big arguments.  It is usually about something important because we talk out the little stuff without a fuss.  But when it comes to the big stuff both of us are so sure we are right that the only way to solve it is to yell and fight it out.  Eventually, the wrong one will see the err of their ways and admit so to the right one.  But sometimes these arguments take months or even years.  I am convinced, though, – despite all of our arguments and frustrations – that Presten is without a single doubt in my mind the most perfect man for me; not perfect completely in himself, mind you, but perfect for me.  Sure he leaves his clothes lying around sometimes, he rarely cleans up his beard shavings, and I have to nag him to clean the toilet sometimes.  He several flaws but am I not flawed myself?  I curse and yell when barely angry.  I take my shoes off and leave them where they lie.  I almost never make the bed.  I love cleaning, but often lack the motivation to start so sometimes the house is a complete mess.  Does he complain?  Does he yell at me or fuss at me?  Does he ever say I am a lousy wife?? Nope.  In fact, the only thing he has ever done is say gently, “Honey, I would really appreciate it if you would do some laundry.  I wore my last pair of underwear today.”

So I shouldn’t complain, because he doesn’t complain.  The worst thing, though, is the inability to make him see my way.  That may sound funny and make you laugh, but let me explain.  There have been times that I have Bible verses and/or scientific research, and interviews with people who know and have experience, but he is arguing because “it makes sense to me”, or some other nonsensical reasoning.  Yet he will not admit that maybe, just maybe, he is wrong.  And sometimes these arguments, despite my good foundation, take days, months, or years to convince him and it is so very frustrating to both of us.  But eventually he does come around and when he does he admits that he was being bull-headed and had no foundation for his standing.  I guess the whole problem is that I can change cold turkey — just drop my old ways and pick up new ones like that.  I learned it from my mom.  But Presten needs time to adjust to the idea of change, then time to adjust to the beginning of change, then he will start to change and be unsure and hold off.  But when he decides he needs to change, he does change and permanently.  So I guess I should be grateful that, unlike many husbands that I have heard about, he does change.  He has learned to put his pocket things in a bowl when he gets home, to help clean up the table either after dinner or at least before bed, and to cuddle me at night before we go to sleep.  He never smokes, doesn’t desire drugs or alcohol, has never hit me or abused me, understands when I say “not tonight honey” and is always as loving as he can be.  He’s a good guy, even if he is bull-headed.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want a male version of a “yes wife”.  When he has a sound foundation with Bible verses and/or research etc I listen, I change, I may argue a little… but I do change.  I just don’t like it when he stands on a faulty foundation, that’s all.  Don’t stand there and tell me you are right if you have nothing to back it.  You cannot tell me I have to change my beliefs when your beliefs have no basis!  It is foolishness!

So I will pray for him that when he has no foundation he will see it.  But I will also pray for myself that, even when I am right, I will have patience and love and not yell, argue or be mean.  I will patiently love him and pray for his change.  If God can “turn the heart” of people in the Bible, he sure can change my husband.  And if Jesus can maintain his temper and be loving toward the Pharisees then I can be loving toward the wonderful man that is my husband, even when he is bull-headed.

xox
Super Mom
Not acting very super today. 😮

oops

A very good friend once helped me with an issue I was having.  We are constantly teaching Cassie correct and incorrect behavior.  For example, throwing a fist-flinging, leg-kicking fit is not okay, but communicating your feelings strongly is okay, even with tears. Or another example: smoking and damaging your body is not okay, but keeping your temple clean is best.

So, as an observant child, Cassie would notice other children and people doing these many things that we had told her were not okay.  With the good heart she has, and very outspoken nature like her mother, she would say, “oh he’s smoking! That is bad! Its not good for his body!” right in front of the smoker, which would be quite embarrassing.

One day I asked Amy, who had two boys of her own, what she did in such cases.  She shared how she tells her children that it is okay for that person but not for her children.  Until today I thought that to be a great idea.  But today I realized maybe not.  Everything we teach Cassie is from the Bible.  Where in the Bible does it say that its okay for some people to sin but not others?  It doesn’t.  The Bible clearly says that all have sinned and all sinners go to hell without the covering of Christ’s blood and God’s forgiveness. (Romans 3:22-24) In essence, we were unintentionally teaching her that sin is okay for some people.

I realized this during a conversation with her that went something like this:
”Mommy, do we have glue?”
”No, honey, I apologize.  We don’t.”
”Well mommy… Maybe a fairy will come and see we don’t have any glue and make me have glue.”
I thought about this for a moment.  How imaginative…  Then I realized that would be magick, which we teach Cassie the Bible clearly says that magick is sin. (Deuteronomy 18:9-11; Galatians 5:19-23)  So instead of letting the imaginative moment go by, I decided to teach her a bit.
"What would that be, Cassie?”
”It would be glue.”
”No, Cassie.  If they gave you glue, what would they be doing?”
”Magick.”
”Yes. And magick is wrong, isn’t it?”
”Well, yes I know magick is bad for me. But its okay for fairies.”

That made me realize what we had been teaching her.  She was right; we had been teaching her that it was okay for others.

“No, Cassie, magick is never okay, not even for fairies.”  I told her.

Now some of you may think that I should let imaginative moments be and not try to teach my kid all the time. However, I have learned with Cassie that whether I teach her intentionally or not, she is always learning.  So I could let imaginative moments go by, but if she is wrong she is learning from me that wrong thing is right since I didn’t correct it. Which just means I’ll have to go back later and teach her about it.  I take every chance I get to teach her.  I am laying the foundation for the rest of her life.  To me, teaching her is like making a foundation for a house. If a large rock fell into the concrete and created a lump you wouldn’t just leave it there; you would take it out!  If you left it there it would be nearly impossible to remove once the concrete dries.  Its the same thing.  Un-teaching a child is incredibly difficult.  I have experienced this with my husband.  My husbands’ mom, dad or someone taught him something or didn’t teach them something so now I have to re-train my husband.  It is a pain and very difficult.  (I’m sure he has the same experience with me from time-to-time.)

So I guess from now on I’ll have to teach her that while other people sin, often blatantly in front of you, it is not our job to make them stop.  It is our job to love them and stay firm in our beliefs and correct ourselves so we don’t model sinful behavior.  Its hard, though, because a certain amount of discernment is healthy and important.  How can you choose “good company” so your good character wont be corrupted without a bit of discernment?  (1 Corinthians 15:33) I think its more the attitude you use when looking at others.  A lens of love is always best.

~Supera Matris

Where has the time gone?

Time has just been flying for me lately.  Presten is working from home for now and that makes life even busier.  Though he is an adult, I think most mom’s have experienced the added joy and burden of having their husband home often.  Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful to have him home and be spending so much time with him.  However, the stress caused by our money situation offsets that joy.

Aside from all that, life is beautiful.  The sun has been shining more and I feel like this winter was far less rainy and dreary than last winter.  It reflects my own heart because last winter I was still painfully dealing with my sisters death.  Though it still pains me to think of her life lost, it isn’t as bad as it was.

More recently though — just this past Thanksgiving — I lost a very dear friend to me.  She isnt dead like my sister, which makes it feel much worse.  She lives across town and yet I never see her.  I keep hoping to run into her at the store, but I fear she would run the other way.  We are no longer friends because of an altercation between her husband and myself and my husband.  Her husband did not agree with our POV and thought it best to end friendship.  Yeah, I thought it was a bit drastic.  If you care for someone enough, isn’t it worth mending the relationship and overcoming differences?

Any way… enough about that.  It is hard to not feel deeply depressed sometimes.  I feel like there is a lot weighing on me — our financial situation, the loss of my sister, missing my family, the loss of my closest friend, among other things.  That’s enough to make anyone depressed sometimes, isnt it?  My family worries about me sometimes, but its not like I’m about to jump off the nearest high building or bridge.  I am crucified with Christ and I know he guides my life.

I DO believe he has a plan, I just have a very hard time feeling okay about it all.  I feel like a very kind man as led me to the back seat of his vehicle, handed me a book called “The Bible” and encouraged me to get in.  The windows are so tinted I cannot see out.  I don’t know where we are going or how we are getting there.  I only know that at the very end of the trip lies a beautiful wonderful place.  During the trip I talk to him, but he says nothing back;  he only smiles with a look of love and compassion in his eyes.  Wouldn’t that be a little scary some times?  I think so…

I trust the Lord and I know his motives and heart for me.  I just don’t know the road.  The bumps are surprising and sometimes very painful.  But I know the end of the road is Heaven, so the road cant be THAT bad, can it?

Well I need to relax for a bit.  I feel stressed out. *sigh*  I wish God were a little more verbal.

IJNA
Supera Matris Maggie